4 March 2002

Uganda: Dense Bush Hampers Search for Man-Eating Lion

Phalaborwa — Rangers are having difficulty tracking a lion that attacked and killed an illegal Mozambican immigrant near the Kruger National Park on Saturday night.

Lions that have tasted human flesh have to be killed, to prevent them from attacking people again.

But the dense bush is hampering the search, explained chief conservator from the Limpopo environment department, Dirk de Klerk, on Monday.

De Klerk said two Kruger rangers helped him search the veld around Phalaborwa the whole of Sunday but that they didn't find the lion.

He said the search would continue on Monday.

"We are monitoring the area to ensure we capture the lion, but the dense bush if making the search difficult," he said.

Phalaborwa police have established that Alechandre Langa, 26, has been in the country twice before the lion attack.

Langa and his brother were hiding from Phalaborwa commando members at about 10pm when the lion attacked them.

"Stunned commando members saw the animal hauling a person's body, and gave chase," said Lowveld area police spokesman Captain Moatshe Ngoepe.

The lion dropped Langa's body when the commando members began shooting at it and disappeared into dense bush.

Langa's brother survived the attack by climbing a tree, but had to watch as his brother was mauled to death.

The commando members had not seen him, and he spent the night in the tree.

The next morning he walked to the police station to report the incident.

He is in custody pending his deportation to Mozambique, from where he will have to arrange for his brother's body to be returned and buried, said dPhalaborwa station commissioner Superintendent Peter Malubane.

The body is being kept at a local mortuary in the mean time.

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